Money & Business

Are You Going the Distance With Your Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Efforts?

By / Aug 29, 2018 (malerapaso/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A new study from McKinley Advisors points to a gap between associations’ desires to promote diversity within their organizations and their effectiveness in actually doing so.

Talking the talk is easier than walking the walk.

And McKinley’s recently released 2018 Economic Impact on Associations Study uncovered that’s the case when it comes to associations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. The survey of nearly 200 association executives “reveals a tendency among associations to identify DE&I efforts as a top organizational priority without implementing the specific strategies needed to advance this priority in a substantial way.”

In short, the survey seems to reflect that while many associations might have their hearts in the right place, many of them aren’t applying the right practices to successfully carry out this priority.

“Often we see ‘diversity’ emerge on a strategic plan as a priority workstream or as a core value, and while it is important to articulate the commitment your organization has to diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s even more crucial to live this commitment …,” said Jon Hockman, FASAE, principal at McKinley, in the survey report.

For instance, more than 60 percent of respondents said that increasing DE&I among staff was a priority, but some of the primary actions they took to do so were ineffective. These practices include having an equal employment opportunity policy, emphasizing benefits in job postings, and using diverse sources for recruitment.

McKinley President & CEO Jay Younger, FASAE, recommended that associations think of those types of practices as “baseline.”

“It doesn’t mean that because they’re not producing the results that organizations would like that they should stop doing them,” he said, but these practices just aren’t going far enough.

The survey also shows that some of the more successful practices in working to increase DE&I among staff—things like formal diversity trainings to both staff and management, supporting diverse communities, and implementing mentoring programs and cross-training—are among the least likely to be adopted by survey respondents. These are the practices, which over time, will get the word out that your organization is not only talking the talk, but you’re walking the walk.

“Like anything else in an association, if it is left to the margins, you’re only going to get partial results,” Younger said. “And the organizations that have professionalized this function and taken a coordinated approach … tend to be the ones that are having better results. It has to be more than a sub-bullet in someone’s job description.”

Younger calls DE&I “a long-term play for organizations.” In an age where most strategic priorities are driven by metrics, it can be underwhelming to take stock of initial results to your organization’s DE&I efforts. But, he said, success often takes “a consistent and applied level of effort over many, many years.”

What practices have you found most helpful in your association’s DE&I efforts? Please leave your comments below.

Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. More »

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